Scientists Turn Crop Waste into Fragrances with Microbes

Labiotech.eu | November 27, 2019

In a study published in the journal Green Chemistry, the scientists used engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to break down sugar cane and wheat straw, waste products from the agricultural industry. The bacteria then fermented the waste materials into coniferol, a high-value chemical used in fragrances and washing powders. The research was carried out by scientists based at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, University of Manchester, UK, and two universities in Brazil. At present, chemicals and fuels used in many industries are derived from fossil fuels, a finite resource. There are growing industries dedicated to obtaining these products from more renewable and cleaner sources, such as making biofuels from crops. However, it is hard for biofuels to compete economically with the fossil fuel industry because the latter often has more established technologies. To get around this issue, the research team has developed fermentation technology to cheaply turn plant waste into coniferol, a chemical that is more valuable than biofuels. The team is now preparing to scale up the process and is also working to overcome challenges in the technology. These challenges include making sure that the engineered E. coli bacteria remain able to process the plant waste over many generations.

Spotlight

Happy Monday! Our colleague, Justine, has put together a wonderful infographic to map out which European biotech companies are making moves in which field, from health to agrotech to medtech. Its vivid colours will surely brighten your day – take a look-see below.

Spotlight

Happy Monday! Our colleague, Justine, has put together a wonderful infographic to map out which European biotech companies are making moves in which field, from health to agrotech to medtech. Its vivid colours will surely brighten your day – take a look-see below.

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